Mubtadi – Wolves Feb 18
Mubtadi has turned the corner - he was going to the sales at the beginning of the year - via being gelded and a few tweaks with his training programme and also a change of tactics.
His two victories have shown him to be a different horse from early January after that frustrating night at Wolves. The step up to a 1m has helped and getting him into a rhythm has also been key. The addition of Tom Brown has also proved a masterstroke.
Today is another step up the grading ladder (he moves back into a 0-65) and he also moves up to 10f. The trip won't be a problem. Both his recent races showed him to be strong at the end and his breeding also indicates he will stay fine.
Four of his half brothers have won over 10f and his full brother, Dubai's Touch, was just beat over the trip at Lingfield. As for the grade, he ran well in a 0-85 at Newbury last year when he was still an entire and had an attitude problem.
Tactics may have to be altered. There are two other front runners in the contest, Yeomanoftheguard and West End Lad, but he doesn't need to lead, just get into a rhythmn that has served him so well.
You have to respect Fly Haaf, making his handicap debut and well related, although his run in his last maiden doesn't suggest he is thrown in. I would be more afraid of Thereabouts. He has run well in better races and the trainer is in form. He has yet to win a race but the rise in trip also promises to help.
It has been a deliberate ploy to take things slowly with Mubtadi, he is a like a pupil who has started to stay in and do his homework but you know at any time he could go out on a bender if you push him too hard.
This grade is well within his compass. His homework and his behaviour at home suggests he still ready to try and pass his next exam. His reward will be a well earned break until April, and fast turf, if he is successful.